Horseshoes anyone?
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Wood Magazine

Horseshoes anyone?

Looking for a project kids will love? This one's a ringer.

Horseshoes for Kids

Horseshoes for Kids

Too many kids these days don't recognize the word "game" unless it's preceded by "video." With this horseshoe set, however, today's youngsters can have fun with a throwback to simpler times. The shoes and stakes are made from light but strong plywood finished in bright aniline dyes.

As a convenience to allow you to view this free woodworking plan before downloading it, we now offer a page-by-page review. If you like the plan, you'll find a Click here for a free downloadable plan link on the last page of the plan. The downloadable plan will have larger, easier to view illustrations than the online preview.

Need help downloading plans? For step-by-step instructions, use the link below.


Shape the Shoes
One square board
Enlarge Image
Horseshoe next to router on table
Enlarge Image
Rout the rough-cut horseshoes to
shape using a flush-trim bit and
template horseshoe. Take it slow,
and keep a firm grip as you rout
around the ends.

Shape the Shoes

On with the shoes
  1. Make four copies of the full-size horseshoe pattern found in the Free Downloadable Plan on the last page of the end of this plan and cut the paper patterns to rough shape. Use spray adhesive to adhere the patterns to a sheet of 1/2" plywood, where shown in the Cutting Diagram.

    Note: We used a special thin-veneer birch plywood that offers high strength and stability. See the Shop Tip on for more information. You can substitute standard birch plywood if you prefer.
  2. Cut blanks for the horseshoes (A) to rough shape using a bandsaw, scrollsaw, or jigsaw. Make your cuts about 1/16" outside the layout line on the pattern.
  3. Set three of the rough-cut horseshoes aside for now. Sand the remaining one up to the line to create the final horseshoe shape. You'll use it as a template for the others.
  4. Temporarily affix one of the rough-cut horseshoes (A), using small pieces of double-faced tape, to the template shoe you just sanded. Now chuck a flush-trim bit in your table-mounted router, and trim the rough-cut shoe to match the shape of the template shoe, as shown in the Photo. Repeat these steps for the two remaining horseshoes. This pattern-routing technique is faster than shaping each horseshoe by hand, and it ensures that each of the horseshoes is an exact duplicate.


Rout the Edges
Drawing of horseshoe
Enlarge Image
Drawing 1

Rout the Edges

5 Now chuck a 3/16" round-over bit into the table-mounted router, and relieve the edges of all four horseshoes, where shown in the Drawing 1.

6 Rip a 2x21" strip from the birch plywood to create the center cleats (B) and end cleats (C). (Though the cleats are small, the following operations will be much easier and safer if you start with an oversized piece.) Resaw the piece to 1/4" thick, then rip the resawn piece down to create a 1/4x1/4x21" strip.

7 Crosscut the strip to create four center cleats (B) and eight end cleats (C) at the sizes shown. To give the cleats their final shape, adhere a quarter-sheet of 80-grit sandpaper to a flat surface and sand 1/16" tapers on the edges and ends of all the cleats.

8 Glue one center cleat (B) and two end cleats (C) to one face of each horseshoe, where shown on the full-size horseshoe pattern.


Finish the Pieces

Finish the Pieces

Add the stakes, finish
  1. Rip four 1x21" strips from the 1/2"-thick birch plywood. Face-glue two strips together using a water-resistant adhesive to create each stake (D), as shown in the Drawing.
  2. After the glue sets, remove any excess and sand the edges smooth. Now rout a 3/8" round-over on all four edges of each stake.
  3. Mark a line around each stake 4" up from the bottom, where shown in the Drawing. Then form a point on each stake using a disc sander. (A rasp, followed by sandpaper, also works.)
  4. Finish the stakes and horseshoes. You can create pairs of shoes for each of two players by using different colors. (We chose colorful red, green, and blue aniline dyes. See the Buying Guide for more information.) Now apply a couple coats of exterior polyurethane to provide long-lasting protection.

Shop Tip:
Baltic birch and Finnish birch plywoods both have a greater number of plies than standard domestic plywood. A 1/2" sheet, for example, has nine plies, as opposed to the five plies usually found in standard 1/2" plywood. These imports are made from slow-growing (and therefore tight-grained) birch trees harvested in the cool Baltic regions of Finland and Russia. Gluing thin, void-free veneers together results in a rigid, neutral-grained plywood that looks great, even on the edges. Baltic birch, the better-known of the two, works well for indoor use. Finnish birch plywood looks similar, but uses exterior-grade glue, making it suitable for use outdoors. An American-made version called ApplePly is also available for indoor projects. See the Buying Guide, above, for sources.

©Copyright Meredith Corporation 2002, 2010



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